The Vatican has accused a U.N. human rights committee of sowing confusion, violating its own norms and the church's religious freedom with a controversial report into the Holy See's record on child sexual abuse.

The Vatican on Friday released its formal response to a February report by the U.N. committee on the rights of the child, which among other things accused the Vatican of maintaining a "code of silence" that enabled priests to sexually abuse tens of thousands of children worldwide over decades with impunity.

The committee monitors implementation of the U.N. child rights treaty. The Holy See was forced to testify before it as a treaty signatory.

In its response, the Vatican insisted that it is only responsible for implementing the treaty within the tiny Vatican City State.